Spot: The Versatility of a Common Triangle Read Pass Game Concept

The Spot scheme is a common pass game concept run at the high school level all the way up to the NFL. It is also referred to as “Snag”, and is known for its simplicity and ability to create both a horizontal and vertical stretch. Like the Stick Concept, Spot is a half field “Triangle” read. This scheme features a flat route as a horizontal stretch, a deep corner or 7 route as a vertical stretch, and the Spot/Snag route coming underneath at about 5 yards and settling in an open zone. Against man, the Spot route should work back toward the sideline if it is initially covered. The Spot route is also commonly referred to as a slant settle or a mini-curl, and is an easy completion and chain mover against zone. The Concept can be run from a variety of formations, and with or without motion. Additionally, offenses can change up which Receiver will run each route; this dictates how a QB will read the play. Generally, the Quarterback’s progression is flat to spot to corner. Below, the Patriots run the Spot Concept from a Bunch Trips set on the top of the screen, with a closed TE to the bottom:


The Bills are playing Cover 1. Against man defensive schemes, the spot route is tough to complete and can be jammed at the line. The flat route is easier to complete because several receivers cross each other, creating traffic. The deep corner route is toughest to defend man to man. The most common way to run the Spot concept is to have either the middle or inside receiver run the corner. However, there are several advantages to having the outside most receiver run the corner: first, the outside receiver can get to the deep third of the field quickest; and second, an outside corner back rarely plays a 7-route going toward the sideline. After recognizing that the defense is in Cover 1, it becomes a simple high low read between the flat route and the deep corner. The outside receiver (LaFell) takes an inside release, stacks the defensive back, and beats him to the corner:

Against Cover 3 zone, the Quarterback should read the flat and throw opposite of the flat defender. Against Cover 2 zone, the QB should still read the flat defender, but should also peak the corner route if the 2-high safety has poor leverage. Below are two examples of the Spot Concept against the Colts during the 2014 season. Note how the Broncos run the Spot Concept from a heavy set using motion:

Broncos GL spot

Here, the flat defender (noted in the blue square above) is sucked in by the spot route, opening up the flat:

Later in the season, the Steelers use the same concept against the Colts from a heavy bunch set, with 3 TE/FB types making up the bunch. When the flat defender expands, the spot should open up underneath for an easy 5 yard completion:

James Light Steelers Spot

Credit: James Light

The Spot Concept can be executed in almost any type of offense from numerous formations and personnel groupings. This and the fact that it is a relatively easy progression triangle read makes the Spot Concept a staple in many offenses. Finally, keep in mind that there is usually a single backside receiver opposite the Spot Concept who can run any route as well. Below are other ways to run the Spot Concept:

From Pro Personnel:

Credit: Matt Bowen

Credit: Matt Bowen

With an offset back, (particularly from shotgun) some Quarterbacks prefer the running back on a “wide” track as opposed to the traditional flat route because the ‘wide’ flare does not push coverage back into the intermediate level. Instead, a wide path provides a faster horizontal stretch threat and an easier throw to the ‘wide’ as a hot route. This “wide” track is exemplified below:

Denver Wide Spot

For another look, below is a more spread out bunch set:

Credit: Smartfootball's "Snag, Stick, and the Importance of Triangles in the Passing Game"

Credit: Smartfootball’s “Snag, Stick, and the Importance of Triangles in the Passing Game”

Below, the Broncos run the Spot Concept at the bottom of the screen from an empty formation. A bubble route provides for the horizontal stretch instead of the traditional flat route:


Finally, the Spot Concept is a great red zone play because of the dilemma it creates. Playing zone makes a defense more susceptible to the run but also creates an easy window to hit the spot route. On the other hand, man to man creates confusion, traffic, and natural screens:


The Spot Concept wasn’t just limited to offense during the 2014 season. NFL teams even use the spot concept for fake punts! Below, the St. Louis Rams picked up a key first down against Seattle in the 4th quarter via motion and the Spot Concept:

Overall, the Spot Concept is simple to execute and extremely versatile with respect to formations and personnel groupings. It is a half field triangle read with a set progression that often results in easy completions. As seen above, it can be used via heavy sets, bunch, spread formations and in almost any situation: on your own goal line to gain a few yards, from the middle of the field to gain 5 yards on 1st or 3rd down, to make a big play, or in the red zone.

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9 thoughts on “Spot: The Versatility of a Common Triangle Read Pass Game Concept

    • Thanks! I’m definitely planning to continue to build the site via various run and pass concepts in the off-season (I just put one out for the Dagger Concept). Once the season starts I may focus more on Weekly NFL X’s and O’s breakdowns. If you want me to do a breakdown of a specific concept, let me know and I’d be happy to look at it. I have a few on my to-do list but am flexible.

  1. Awesome! And…..there’s plenty. One concept, you might have done something on James Light Football, is about the scissors or switch concept. I saw something on ESPN’s Matchup Show that stunned me and had more questions. I think it was the Chargers offense and how they ran a “Scissors-Read” concept, where the WRs scissors their routes or switch near the LOS if their defenders are in press-man, but will switch at 12-15 yards deep if defense is in zone. Haven’t seen too much on other sites about a scissor read. Usually they do a scissors with a curl-wheel or some option read at the top of their routes, not when to do a scissors or switch. Both the two WRs and QB have to be on the same sheet of music and see the defense with the same eyes, so maybe too complex for some teams?

    The other concept (or half-concept) was Dirk Koetter’s offense on seam reads/TE-bender routes. I think there are Air Raid-like concepts, but always had questions on if TE is reading the seam and outside WRs have vertical reads, how do you make sure the WRs continue vertically to take the top off of coverage?

    Probably basic questions, but haven’t really seen it explained in-depth.

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